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Mentally ill man walking in the road was hit by car

PUBLISHED: 09:54 12 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:26 01 August 2010

A MENTALLY ill man who did not take his anti-psychotic medication was walking in the road when he was hit by a car, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Bushnell died from injuries he suffered in the road crash on the A143 at Ellingham, near Bungay, last August.

A MENTALLY ill man who did not take his anti-psychotic medication was walking in the road when he was hit by a car, an inquest has heard.

Alexander Bushnell died from injuries he suffered in the road crash on the A143 at Ellingham, near Bungay, last August.

An inquest at Norwich Magistrates' Court heard how the 30-year-old photographer from Shoreditch, London, had been wearing black clothes and was walking in the unlit road near the junction of Church Road and Yarmouth Road at about 10pm at night.

Greater Norfolk coroner William Armstrong told the driver of the car she should not blame herself after hearing two other motorists tell how they had seen Mr Bushnell in the road. One of the drivers had to swerve to avoid him.

Mr Bushnell, who worked as a photographer in nightclubs, had travelled to Norwich take photographs at an 18th birthday party in Ashby St Mary, near Thurton.

Christopher Kemp, who had hired Mr Bushnell to cover his daughter's party on Thursday, August 27, was taking him and some of the guests in a minibus to Norwich train station at about 9.30am next day when Mr Bushnell suddenly jumped out of the bus while it was waiting at traffic lights at Trowse.

The inquest heard how his whereabouts were unknown during that day and he was next seen standing in the road at Ellingham at about 10pm by a motorist.

Another witness, Darren Toovey, described seeing Mr Bushnell in the road directly in front of his car.

He said: “He was walking in my lane towards oncoming traffic. It was only by the grace of God that I missed him.”

Colleen Alp, from Fritton, near St Olaves, was driving her BMW and saw Mr Toovey put his hazard lights on further down the road.

She unable to avoid hitting Mr Bushnell and in statement to police, part of which was read out at the inquest, she said: “I took my foot off the accelerator and saw a shadowy figure in the road…and then there was a bang.”

She also described the upset and trauma the accident had caused.

Mr Bushnell's father Roger told the inquest how his son had been surfing internet websites and, fearing he was being poisoned by his anti-psychotic drugs, preferred to find other ways to treat his illness.

A toxicology report showed he had not taken his medication and the court heard how Mr Bushnell had a history of placing himself in harm's way while in a disturbed state of mind.

Mr Armstrong said: “It appears Alex was quite clearly an intelligent person who recognised he was suffering from a mental illness and it appears he had his own idea about how to treat his conditions.”

He recorded a verdict that Mr Bushnell died as a result of a road traffic collision while in a disturbed state of mind.

Mr Armstrong said he could not record a verdict of suicide as there was not enough evidence that Mr Bushnell had placed himself in front of the vehicle in a conscious attempt to end his life.

He added: “It's important for me to say that there's no way that Mrs Alp could have avoided this collision and in now way should any blame be attached to her.”

Following the inquest Mr Bushnell's father said a note from his son was found, saying he hid his black travel case containing his camera equipment in woods.

He appealed to people in the area to keep an eye out for the case, as the family are keen to have them returned.

He said: “He was a gentle person who is sadly missed by his family.”

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